Ministers can walk out of HOA in protest, but they don’t — Fraser
Opposition Leader Julian Fraser has argued that government ministers can find ways to demonstrate their opposition to Bills which are brought to the House of Assembly (HOA) that they do not agree with.
Fraser’s comments come in the wake of a controversial Police Bill that was brought to the HOA to be passed but was later withdrawn after significant public pushback.
Fraser argued that although legislators do not draft Bills that are brought to the House, they do not have to pass them if the public is not in favour of those laws.
According to Fraser, this is why his proposed bicameral system for the legislature is needed.
Fraser said when the government brings a Bill to the House of Assembly, they already have a majority, and because of the convention of ‘collective responsibility’, ministers are generally expected to join with the government in moving a Bill forward once it emerges from Cabinet.
The system of collective responsibility essentially states that members of the Cabinet must publicly support all governmental decisions made in Cabinet, even if they do not privately agree with them.
“[A minister] can’t argue against [a Bill] in the House,” Fraser said. “What he can do is get up and walk out when the time comes to vote, but that doesn’t happen.”
Fraser continued: “How many times can he do it before the Premier fires him? So, a bicameral system gives the opportunity for the other House to shoot things down. It gives us the opportunity to come back here and argue it, after we get the feedback from the people.”
The Opposition Leader recently shared his proposal with United Kingdom (UK) Overseas Territories Minister, Lord Zac Goldsmith, that the BVI should have a bicameral legislature.